This article was last updated on October 16, 2016
All it takes is one wrong move in the morning — your coffee tastes wrong, or that important email from last night didn’t go through and you missed a deadline — and your whole day is thrown off. Traffic is the worst, and you find yourself steaming with anger, unable to find the calm you had when you woke up.
Is this the kind of life you want? Of course not! No one wants to be burdened by stress.
Although it can be difficult to find your calm in the midst of the storm, it might actually be easier than you think.
6 Ways To Find Calm Right Now
Begin by sitting comfortably, and pay attention to your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths through your nose, relaxing your muscles all throughout your body. You don’t have to stop thinking, just pay attention to the thoughts running through your head, watching them as if you are an outside observer.
Gaining some perspective on your thoughts slows down your body’s stress reaction, releasing more oxytocin and allowing more thoughtfulness in how you respond to a situation.
Beyond enriching the quality of one’s life by being outside amongst flowers and birds, a recent study in the Netherlands says that gardening lowers cortisol and can fight stress even better than other relaxing leisure activities. Another study from the University of Colorado found that soil contains natural, harmless bacteria that boosts serotonin in cognitive centers of the brain, perhaps helping stave off dementia and symptoms of depression, among other benefits.
So, if you really want some calm, get your hands in the dirt.
Go for a walk.
Countless studies have shown that even a fifteen-minute walk can relieve stress symptoms, lowering blood pressure, raising oxytocin levels, and lowering your risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to the health benefits, going for a walk gets you out to meet new people, or see old friends — and a healthy social life is always good for the soul.
Taking care of your muscles (especially for those of you who sit at a desk all day) is integral to staying mentally healthy: nothing can make your day terrible like having a pinched nerve in your neck or a sore back.
Stretching isn’t just the latest trend, either: yoga has been around for thousands of years to help soothe mind and body. Don’t be afraid to try a yoga class near you; there are often free passes available. If a class isn’t your thing, there are countless stretching and yoga tutorials on YouTube for shy beginners.
Get enough sleep.
Pulling an all-nighter to make a deadline may be applauded, but it’s terrible on your immune system, your mental health, and your sleep schedule.
If you really want to keep yourself calm and put together, go to sleep on time, and wake up early. If you have a hard time putting yourself to bed, try reading a book and drinking some chamomile instead of browsing Facebook or answering emails. Studies show that blue light from devices mimics daylight and can throw off your circadian rhythms, keeping you up longer than is natural.
Journaling is a practice used by countless brilliant minds, including some of the greatest literary geniuses of our time.
Writing down your thoughts can help you sort through them, and even help you come to terms with them, which can help reduce the impact of stress responses on your health. Sometimes the best way to stop the swirl of confusing and stressful thoughts from dominating is to get them all out of your head and onto the page.
Life is too short to spend it worked up and stressed out over small circumstances that are beyond your control. Give yourself the time to start new anxiety-reducing habits, and make it a point to practice them daily. Spend time giving yourself this gift and soon you’ll find your calm center in the midst of today’s hectic world.